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Sports

Girls Basketball: With 1,000 points and counting, Jazmin Tapia makes Morton go

Four-year starter and Chicago State recruit has helped fuel three straight winning seasons

Morton guard Jazmin Tapia brings the ball upcourt during the game against Addison Trail Friday, Dec. 2 2016 in Addison.
Morton guard Jazmin Tapia brings the ball upcourt during the game against Addison Trail Friday, Dec. 2 2016 in Addison.

It is Jazmin Tapia's practice day must.

Every day Tapia, Morton's 5-foot-7 senior guard, leaves school at 2:40 p.m. to grab a Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Then she gets to work.

"She's a Dunkin' Donuts fanatic," laughed Morton coach Joe Maietta. "She knows all the best flavors. Fun-loving kid, good student, good daughter and a relentless competitor."

Those cups of coffee are fuel to quite a career.

On Dec. 26 Tapia scored her 1,000th career point, joining current Indiana State sophomore Maryam Wilcher as the only Morton girls to reach that milestone in Maietta's seven seasons as coach.

Tapia, who plans to play collegiately at Chicago State, was recognized for an achievement in a recent game against Leyden.

"I knew I was getting close, but I didn't think I was that close," Tapia said. "It means a lot. Not many people are able to get it. I've had great people around me who have helped me get here."

It comes from plenty of hard work and dedication.

It isn't uncommon for Tapia to go from Morton practices to the Berwyn YMCA to further work on her game. She routinely goes to the YMCA at 7 a.m. weekend mornings with her parents to get in more shots. She's worked to improve at creating her own shot, and get teammates involved.

"I always think there can be improvement," Tapia said.

Tapia currently is averaging 16.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists per game for Morton, 8-11 and 4-4 in the West Suburban Gold.

Maietta has seen Tapia grow into a program leader.

He first saw Tapia play as a sixth-grader at the Berwyn rec center. As an incoming freshman, he thought she had an opportunity to play up on varsity. The oldest of three sisters, Tapia is quiet, but business-like.

"We had her play in our summer league at Richards – I had seen enough to know that I thought she could be a contributor," Maietta said. "I liked the fact that she was a lefty, and I thought she was mature enough. I thought she could fit in well with our varsity girls. At first she didn't think she was good enough, she wanted to play freshman ball. Older people that I trusted said no, she is ready."

Tapia played two years with Wilcher, a good learning experience. When teams keyed on Wilcher, Tapia started to flourish scoring-wise.

"I learned that if you are not up to the speed you'll have a difficult time, but I also learned to have fun," Tapia said. "It was a once in a lifetime experience to play with her."

Tapia scored 26 points in a game against Downers Grove South this year, and has reached 20 points a number of times.

And can score in multiple ways.

She has 3-point range well beyond the arc, can slash to the basket and can finish with either hand. When her outside shot isn't falling, Tapia has the ability to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line. She'll play the point for Morton, but can also play the wing.

After a recent game with Proviso East, its coach pulled Tapia aside to pay compliment to her game.

"First and foremost, she competes," Maietta said. "Every game she competes and hates to lose. As a coach you love that."

Chicago State first reached out to Tapia in August. She was in Tennessee for an AAU tournament with the Chicago Xtreme, and hurt her ankle. Chicago State called her AAU coach shortly after that, and said they wanted to bring her aboard.

"I thought it was unreal," Tapia said. "I never imagined I'd get the opportunity."

Tapia last year led Morton to a winning record for the third straight season, a first for the program. Girls like Wilcher, Maietta's daughter Chloe and Tapia have set a good foundation for the program.

With third-year starter Miriah Sierra alongside Tapia, Maietta is targeting a strong finish to conference, and another winning season.

"They are setting the bar for the younger girls in the program to see," Maietta said. "This year Jazmin has really grown up, has really become a leader. She came in as a 14-year-old and is leaving here a fine young lady."

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